Roberto Bolaño (1953 – 2003) was a Chilean
writer and poet. He originally wrote poetry, but changed to write fiction for money
(after all, he had a family to feed). He had a kind of tendency of taking an Ensemble Dark Horse
from one book (or sometimes just a minor character) and writing a story around that character.
Even though he was from Chile, he spent very little time in the country and lived in Spain. He was also very critical of the writers in Chile, particularly Isabel Allende
, decrying their (perceived) lack of talent. This makes him somewhat of a Base Breaker
among Chilean readers.
He has been dead for a while, but is still
publishing books. That shows you how prolific he was. Many of his published works have yet to be published in English, presumably because bringing them all out at once would run the risk of over-saturating the market with new (in English) Bolaño works.
Do not confuse with Roberto Gómez Bolaños, also known as Chespirito
Books written by Bolaño with their own pages here:
Tropes in the works of Roberto Bolaño:
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: In “Police Rat”, Pepe worries because since a rat dared to kill another rat, soon it will become commonplace.
- Author Avatar: Arturo Belano, who share a lot of bibliographic details with Bolaño.
- Author Tract: “Literature + Illness = Illness”, “The Myths of Cthulhu”.
- Badass Bookworm: Arturo Belano.
- Better as Friends: Udo and Ingeborn at the end of The Third Reich.
- Crapsack World: Women in 2666's Santa Teresa are pretty much constantly at risk of being raped and murdered. Given that Santa Teresa is a stand-in for Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, where literally thousands of women have been murdered since 1993, this is pretty much a Foregone Conclusion. ("The Part About the Crimes" [see Overly Long Gag below] goes into this in depth).
- Diary: The Third Reich.
- Doorstopper: 2666 clocks in at well over 1000 pages. Bolaño had planned another 200 pages before suffering Author Existence Failure.
- Expy: According to this review, Father Urrutia Lacroix of By Night in Chile is modelled on the priest and right-wing literary critic José Miguel Ibañez Langlois.
- Intellectual Animal: All the rats in “Police Rat”.
- Intergenerational Friendship: "Sensisi".
- Literary Allusion Title: “The Myths of Cthulhu”, which is not about the Cthulhu Mythos.
- The Mafiya: "Snow".
- Meaningful Name: Auxilio Lacouture (her name is Spanish for "help").
- Mexicans with Machine Guns: Amulet happens during the Tlatelolco massacre, when the Mexican Army forcefully entered the Polytechnic in the FD.
- Overly Long Gag: Part 4 of 2666 is 300 pages of detailed descriptions of misogynist murders. It's not played for laughs.
- Another example of this trope being played for drama is By Night in Chile. The book goes for over a hundred pages and contains two paragraphs. The first takes up nearly the entire book.
- The Quest: Most of his books deal with one or more characters traveling in search of something (a place, a person, sometimes they don't even know what they're looking for). The success rate is... not so good.
- Real-Time Strategy: The main character of The Third Reich is a huge player of wargames, a hobby shared by the author too.
- Reclusive Artist: Benno von Archimboldi in 2666.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: “Police Rat”.
- Self-Deprecation: Belano is just like Bolaño... except a bit more loser.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: The protagonist in “Jim”.
- Spin-Offspring: “Police Rat” has as main character Pepe the Cop, niece of Josephine the Singer.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: By Night In Chile is this to other Chilean writers during the Pinochet years.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Deconstructed in Nazi Literature in the Americas. Nazis and Neo-Nazis tend to appear on his books, whether literally (Distant Star, 2666) or metaphorically (The Third Reich).
- Wasteland Elder: Héctor Pereda in “The Insufferable Gaucho”.
- Wicked Weasel: “Police Rat”.
- Zombie Apocalypse: "The Colonel's Son". It's mostly a retelling of Return of the Living Dead 3, of all things.